Book Review and Give Away

Oct 31

One of my favorite spaces online is Crystal Moody’s Year of Creative Habits. Crystal’s posts are thoughtful, educational, inspiring. Her FaceBook group is one of only a few in which I find myself actively participating–she’s created an encouraging space for fellow creative folks.

A few months back, Crystal sent me an extra copy of Chris Guillebeau’s The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest that will Bring Purpose to Your Life. I read it as I ate breakfast each morning–it’s easy enough to pick up and put down when you want something to read for a short while. I found myself inspired by the variety of quests he shares, his own included. The book is less of a blueprint (because your quest won’t be the same as the quests in the book), and more of an encouragement to live the damn life you crave, even if that means doing something a bit off the map.

I’m a woman who loves a project. I enjoy testing my ability to do something for a sustained period, to challenge what I think I can do and push through to what I can actually do. Guillebeau’s book reminded me: do that more.

To build on the creative spirit and generosity that prompted Crystal to send me the book, I’d like to pass it along to one of you, my dear readers, with the condition that after you read it, you do the same.

If you’re interested, leave a comment telling me about a quest you’ve undertaken or long to undertake. Next Wednesday I’ll randomly pick a name and mail the book to you next Friday.

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Ethical Elegance: Make It

Oct 30


As soon as my Rhinebeck sweater settled into her bath*, I wound up five skeins of Dragonfly Fibers Super Traveller in Peach Melba. I worked Shannon and Kate’s 2012 Stitches East booth, and the yarn was my reward (among others). I’d been modeling the sample Abbi (and lusting after it), and she is almost mine to wear! Super Traveller is, well, super. The yarn is pleasurable to knit, and Kate has a great eye for color.

I used three skeins on the body, which knit up soooo fast on 15s. Maybe 13s would have been better, but I like the fabric of the 15s–all drapey and cozy when I try it on. I plan to make the shawl collar as deep as I can tolerate knitting and worried my two remaining skeins would leave me short. Since variegated yarn does not whisper “elegance” to me, I hope to raise the swank factor of the sweater by using a solid for the ribbing and collar. Enter Malabrigo in Burgundy.

I anticipate the Burgundy will temper the sweetness of the Peach Melba (wouldn’t that be the case if we were sipping and eating these flavors?). We’ll find out!

How have you upped the elegance factor when knitting?


*No FO pictures of the Rhinebeck sweater just yet; I realized after wearing it once that I knit the second sleeve’s cuff in the wrong size needles. Rip, rib goes the ribbing! 

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Oct 27

After skipping the New York Sheep and Wool festival (aka Rhinebeck, as if you didn’t know) last year, I anticipated this year’s festival extra hard. I even finished a sweater, though it was too warm to wear it.

Not much shopping happened. I picked up a few botanic-dyed scarves from my favorite vendor, but I was otherwise quite restrained.

What did happen?


Cooing over sheep

yarnfondling yarn

eating the traditional made-by-Neal lunch

critter parades

And most important of all: visiting with chums. Be sure to check out Gale’s Rhinebeck post for the most delightful pictures of all!

I’m already dreaming of next year.

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FO Friday: Pumpkin Hat

Oct 17

hat Typically, knitting for babies is not my thing. Sure, there are zillions of cute patterns, and babies are pretty small, and the knitting goes quickly. But I am a slow knitter, and babies grow fast. Rarely does it work out for me that I finish a baby project while it will still fit the baby.

I recently became a great aunt, though, and when I learned I’d be meeting the new baby, I figured I could manage a hat. And since it is autumn, a pumpkin hat seemed in order. No picture to prove it, but the hat and the baby looked pretty cute together.

There may be more baby knitting in my future.

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Ethical Elegance: Meet Moop’s Maker

Oct 16

Last week I reviewed my favorite Moop bags, and this week, I bring you an inside look at Moop. What a thrill when Wendy, the creative, ethical woman behind Moop agreed to an interview! The Moop studio is in Pittsburgh, where every elegant bag is designed and hand crafted out of gorgeous, durable, ethical materials. All images provided by Moop.

MoopCan you describe a typical day? What routines frame your days, even if the day’s work and play varies?
Clyde, our studio kitty, moved to my house when we made our studio move, and he relentlessly chases our house kitty, Mouse. So, I’m usually being roused by them around 4:30 each morning to tell them to knock it off!! and crash back to sleep until my alarm goes off at 5:30. I don’t consider myself a morning person..sometimes it is truly painful to get up at that hour, but that is when my day must begin at this stage of life. My daughter and I run around getting ready for the day, packing lunches, fixing breakfast, feeding the kitties, letting the chickens out for the day, turning off every light in the house (seriously, how does every single light get turned on each morning?!) and heading on our respective ways. I have a long commute right now, so I listen to a lot of audio books on my drive to the studio each morning. It’s a good time to try and calm my thoughts before the rush of the day begins.

My work days at Moop are fairly predictable and usually pretty busy. They center around production, shipping, email, marketing, customer service, etc. I have to be very efficient with my time. Being a working parent means your kids schedules are often controlling your schedule. So, once I arrive at the studio, I’m not usually making lunch dates or taking walks in the park. I’m working until I have to head out for the day and more often than not am eating my lunch while answering emails. That said, I love the days when I get to schedule photo shoots and work on new designs. Open studio time is something I have to work hard to get. It’s an important part of the creative process, but as Moop has grown, that time for me has diminished. The balance between daily production, administrative work, and creative inquiry is something I’ve been trying to restore and getting closer to getting back.

This post provides a terrific glimpse at the values that frame your work. Can you talk about how your values grew or deepened as your business grew?
Moop began as an extension of my studio practice as an artist. I had finished grad school (an MFA in photography) and wasn’t entirely sure how I was going to make a living with the degrees I had earned. It took me a while to find the value in the expensive education I had received as an MFA will not exactly help you get a job. But what I didn’t realize in those moments was how much an MFA was going to create my job…rather, how I would create my career because I had gone through the rigors of an art education. You learn a lot of things that don’t feel very quantifiable – I still believe I received the most varied education because of the route I chose. Learning to make things paired with a desire to have a career in an era where the internet exists is really a pretty remarkable place to be. Building a life around a process of making was something I had always wanted. It is now what I have earned by doing the work that I do. It has not been a piece of cake. It has been years and years of long long hours, lots of trial and error, and pounds of perseverance.

Achieving that goal has made me even more committed to the value of a life built around making things. It does not have to be physical, tangible objects – but, approaching what you do with the purpose of making something fantastic will apply to how you operate in your career and your personal life. Making personal connections is the core of making things. And, personal connections are what move us through life in happy, healthy, productive ways.

Why make bags?
I didn’t really begin with a business plan to find the thing that had the highest retail demand…I had made a few bags for myself and began making them for other people. It turned out I was pretty good at it, so I kept making more. There’s not a very scientific reason behind it. I have always carried tote style bags because they are so versatile: they hold up to my sloppy lifestyle, I can drag them around, over fill them and replace them when they’re all worn out…I usually carry one bag until it dies, then replace it with another. I don’t really accessorize with jewelry; instead my bag was always my accessory. Turns out there are a lot of people like me who want a minimalist functional style that’s not covered in branding. That’s the niche where Moop bags fit.

Will you talk about your design process? One of the things I love about Moop bags is that they transcend Market bagtrendiness—the essence of elegance! How do you achieve that? What matters to you as you design? How do you match designs to fabrics?
My process is pretty organic. My first Moop design was The Market Bag. The second was a small messenger bag. Every subsequent bag has come from a variation of those two originals. I had the foundation of shape and build techniques and started working over the details. For me, I try to design our bags so everything has a function (for instance, you’ll not see decorative buckles or useless chains). If there is a top flap, the closure system needs to be functional and the flap needs to be covering something useful, like a pocket. Function and a minimalist aesthetic matter most to me. I like our bags to be versatile so, my color palette tends to be neutral. I love grays and browns and that’s mostly what you’ll see in the Moop collection. Aside from the occasional special edition, which might have a punchy color. Currently, our Backpack no.2 in Magenta is filling the role.

What are you going to be excited about in the next few months?
Our studio relocation has been one of the biggest transitions in the last few weeks so, we’re taking some time to get settled before we release anything new…though, I did recently find an amazing special waxed canvas that I’m working up some designs for!

Thanks, Wendy, for your inspiring responses! I can’t wait to see what you do with that special waxed canvas! To learn more about Moop, visit the website, follow them on Twitter or Instagram, like ‘em on Facebook, or see what they’re up to on Pinterest

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Oct 13

cake 1 It was a special weekend at Chez Golightly. My oldest sister turns, well, a milestone age next month, and since fall break gave many of us a long weekend, we gathered from different parts of the country to celebrate.

We enjoyed dinner at Bricco Trattoria on Saturday evening, all of the siblings, my parents, and a few of my sister’s long-time friends (note, I avoid saying oldest) sharing stories and a lot of laughs.

I woke up early on Sunday to bake my sister’s birthday cake. I used this lemon ricotta cake recipe, leaving off the lemon curd.

cake 2Only one small piece remained. I think it was a hit!

What did you do this weekend?


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Ethical Elegance: Moop Bag Review

Oct 09

letter bag You’ve probably heard me mention one of my favorite bag makers plenty of times: Moop! Today I’ll tell you about a few of their bags and wax poetic about the one that serves as my Mary Poppins bag.

The Tiny Clutch 2 is a great bag for tossing into a larger bag when you want to keep necessities–phone, debit card, cash, lip stick–all together. I use it all the time when I don’t want to carry a handbag and a tote.

I reviewed my Paperback bag here (scroll down to the end of the post). Now that I have an iPad mini, the bag holds even more. I especially like this bag when I’m biking to do my errands. It also makes a terrific clutch when I snap off the strap.

I’ve long been on the search for the perfect handbag, but I already own the perfect work bag: the Moop Letter Bag in waxed canvas. Like Mary Poppins’s carpet bag, this bag can hold it all (almost)! Mine is gray waxed canvas, with one of my favorite details–a gorgeous turquoise lining, which makes it easy to find all the things I stuff into the bag. Most days, the slip pocket holds my bullet journal and pencil case, the front pockets hold my reading glasses and sketchbook, and the inside pocket holds text books, work folders, student papers, articles I need to read–you get the idea. And there is a key fob, the handiest detail on any larger bag! The inside pockets are great for my iPad cord, Altoids, and other bibs and bobs I need throughout the day. While I love the look of leather bags, this one is so much lighter than my leather briefcase. I can carry it, stuffed to the brim, with little pain. I also get a lot of use of the shoulder straps–I don’t often carry bags messenger style, but I do like having the options the adjustable strap offers.

It’s more than a terrific bag for work. You can see the Letter Bag at the Louvre when it served as my second carry-on and day bag during a weekend in Paris. Moop makes many styles that are refined enough to wear with more sophisticated looks.

Of course, the fact that the bags are manufactured in the USA using ethically produced materials goes a long way in my love of them.

Stay tuned for an interview next week with Wendy, the genius behind Moop.

In the meantime, spill in the comments–which is your fave Moop bag?

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